EMI Group is to purchase Toshiba Corp.'s 45% stake in Toshiba-EMI, the Tokyo-based label said in a statement issued late Dec. 13.

The deal will take effect within the April-September first half of fiscal 2007, or earlier, should Toshiba exercise an early completion option.

Following completion of the sale, Toshiba-EMI will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of EMI Group. EMI has agreed to pay ¥21 billion ($178 million) for the stake.

"EMI Group believes in Toshiba-EMI's future business growth and growth in the Japanese music market, the world's second-biggest after the U.S.," Toshiba-EMI president/CEO Shoji Doyama said in a statement.

"Toshiba-EMI will continue to maintain its longtime relationship with Toshiba Group," Doyama said, adding that the label will not change its name for the time being nor make any changes to its current management structure.

"The music content business today is less relevant to other businesses within the Toshiba Group," Toshiba said in a statement explaining why it had decided to accept EMI's offer to buy out its share of Toshiba-EMI.

The Japanese company is home to artists including GLAY, Kyosuke Himuro, Tomoyasu Hotei, Yumi Matsutoya, Sheena Ringo, Utada Hikaru and Eikichi Yazawa.

EMI's purchase of Toshiba's stake in their joint venture, which was established in 1960, follows similar moves in the Japanese market in recent years by other major international record companies. Under Doyama, who became head of Toshiba-EMI in January, the label has been streamlining its operations, including cutting its payroll by some 170 employees to 330 at present.